Once I started thinking about building my diffuser panels to snap together without fasteners, I started thinking about designing other parts of Glow Flow for tool-less construction. It is appealing to be able to perform field repairs without requiring access to a tool box. I’ve done a few other projects with this kind of thinking in mind, like the panning camera base for my Supercon 2017 badge hack. But as I started incorporating aluminum extrusions for my projects (Luggable PC both Mark I and II, and Sawppy rover) I had to use fasteners for those larger and heavier projects.
In terms of size and weight, Glow Flow sat in between those extremes, so would be a fun new frontier to explore tool-less snap together construction. The project did not start with that in mind, so my central LED cylinder core was printed with holes for M3 screws. But that is no barrier, as the cylinder was always intended to allow exploring different end pieces top and bottom without having to reprint the large core cylinder, a flexibility that I shall now take advantage of because there’s little to lose.
My current top and bottom end pieces were designed to support a USB power bank, which could not deliver enough power to run the 300 LEDs at full power. So it was never intended to be the permanent solution and those pieces were slated to be replaced eventually. I would have to find another home for the Pixelblaze circuit board, but that is a minor thing.
Replacement top and bottom end pieces were drawn up and printed, each with a central groove for modules to grip on to. They are fastened to the core cylinder using its existing provision of M3 screws but, if all goes well, there would be very few other fasteners on Glow Flow.
With removal of the USB battery bank, Glow Flow is no longer portable and is tied to my bench power supply until a new power solution is online. That is a problem to be solved later. In the near term, attention returns to the LED diffusers which had awakened my interest in designing for snap-together construction.